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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Drama > Thriller > Survival Quest (1989/DVD-Video/Anchor Bay/Starz)

Survival Quest (1989/DVD-Video/Anchor Bay/Starz)

 

Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Episodes: B-

 

 

Survival Quest is the story of a group of different people coming together, learning to work with one another in the wilderness.  The Survival Quest within the story is run by Hank (Lance Henriksen) is a survival training vacation getaway that under the surface teaches his campers the meaning of leadership and trust in others.  The group consists of a elderly gentleman, a young fiancée, a young head-strong African-American, a woman (who has low self esteem) looking for adventure after just being dumped by her husband and a young convict on a release program, played by Dermot Mulroney.

 

To complicate matters is a group of quasi-military weekend warriors in the woods at the same time, lead by an over-zealous commando type named Jake.  In his charge is a young warrior named Raider with a taste for blood (or dreams of killing someone) played by Steve Antin.  Through out the film, the two groups bump heads a few times until Raider decides to go after Gray (Mulroney), figuring no one will miss a convict.  Hank tries to save Gray from Raider but gets shot in the process.  Witnessing the attack, Jake confronts Raider and takes him down.  When Jake releases him, Raider stabs the commando and leaves him for dead.  Raider convinces the other quasi-warriors that Gray has killed their commander and the hunt begins for the Survival Quest group.

 

This is a fun movie for a Saturday afternoon or late night viewing in the great "B" movie tradition.  It's a standard adventure film were people grow, change and in Raider's case, crack-up.  Lance Henriksen (very early in his career) is a great character actor and it shows here.  Dermot Mulroney, most famous as the groom-to-be in My Best Friend's Wedding, plays the young convict Gray, who starts out as a loner and ends up being the hero.  Catherine Keener plays Cheryl, a divorcee' who just wants to get away from her life and any memories of her ex-husband.  Her character grows the most as she starts out not being able to keep up with the group to, with strength and determination, takes over as leader after Hank's shooting.

 

Cheryl, along with Gray, cunningly lead the group through the wild mountain terrain, as they stay a few steps ahead of the misled weekend warriors.  Mark Rolston is Jake Cannon, the para-military leader of the teenage survivalists.  Rolston plays the roll over the top, training his young charges by beating their lessons into them and encouraging them to treat the Survival Questers as the enemy, but not to harm them.  He has little disregard for the natural surroundings around him and, after illegally killing a deer, has a confrontation with Hank, who knocks him down a few pegs and shows him he's not the survivalist he thinks he is.

 

I found Antin’s performance to be the least convincing.  Raider is supposed to have a taste for blood, but plays the role with a blank face and almost expressionless.  In the scene where he stands guard over his fellow warriors as they sleep, he puts his rifle to Jake's head and pretends to pull the trigger.  It is supposed to represent his descent into madness, but he never changes the expression of his face.  Even when he confronts Gray, then shoots Hank; it's the same blank expression.  His act of surprise as Hank falls to the ground is one of confusion, instead of shock.  Only when he stabs Jake does he show the look of crazed-filled power.

 

The scenery is beautiful.  I love the mountains and the woods and this film shows them off splendidly.  The DVD's only real extra is called Survival Quest: Behind The Scenery.  With a title like this I thought it was going to be about the location of filming, instead we get some bloopers and filming takes.  It's pretty boring, so skip it.  The only other extras are the film's trailers and other film trailers.  It is presented in anamorphically enhanced Widescreen 1.85:1, though the print shows its age.  I like this version because it takes up most of the screen.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo is adequate, but with weak surrounds.  The film is written and directed by Don Coscarelli; most noted for Beastmaster, Phantasm and the funny Bubba Ho Tep all reviewed elsewhere on this site.  He does a good job here, especially with the outdoors, although I thought some senses were cut a little short.

 

 

-    Marc Greisinger


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